Playdate pre-orders go live next week

(Image credit: Panic Inc)

Playdate pre-orders are going live later this month, giving you the chance to get your hands on the adorable crank-equipped handheld as soon as it comes out.

If you've been following Firewatch publisher Panic's impossibly charming mini-handheld gaming console, you've probably been waiting to find out when you can secure one for yourself. And thankfully, we don't have long to wait. Panic announced today that Playdate pre-orders will go live on the handheld's website on Thursday, July 29 at exactly 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm BST.

The handheld itself is priced at $179, and you'll be able to pre-order a stylish cover for another $29. Or, if you know you want the device and the cover, the smartest option is a bundle that includes both, which you'll be able to pre-order from the Playdate website for $199, saving you $10.

In case the little guy has managed to evade your gaze, Playdate is a Game Boy-like device with its own collection of first-party games, which will be delivered in weekly "seasons." Some creators behind Playdate games include Keita Takahashi of Katamari Damacy fame; Zach Gage, whose brainchildren include Spelltower and Flip Flop Solitaire; and Bennett Foddy, designer of QWOP and Getting Over It. Some of the games will take advantage of the attached crank; for example, you'll use the pop-out crank to control your character in Crankin's Time Travel Adventure, Takahashi's game about a heroic robot out to save the world from mean monsters.

Playdate seeks to carve out its own space in the handheld market by providing unique, exclusive "pick-up and play" experiences that you can play anytime and anywhere. Provided it all works well and the games are fun, I could see myself bringing Playdate with me to wait rooms and long commutes and playing it instead of mindlessly scrolling through Twitter and Instagram on my phone, which would undoubtedly be a better use of my time. 

Panic first revealed Playdate in a cover story for Edge magazine, and our sister publication was impressed by the design, the weighty hand feel, and 2.7-inch black-and-white screen, which isn't backlit but is nonetheless "wonderfully sharp and clear."

Until Playdate arrives, revisit simpler times with the best retro consoles available now.

Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.